Thursday, December 14, 2017

25 Days of Gifting: Athletic Greens Travel Health Package

To continue our 25 Days of Gifting extravaganza, BarBend and Athletic Greens are teaming up to give one lucky winner a travel health package!

The world’s most famous greens supplement is about to make your travel a lot tastier. This giveaway with Athletic Greens includes 3 x 20 count Athletic Greens Travel Packs and a portable Athletic Greens Shaker. Perfect to keep your nutrition on point no matter where your trips take you! 

Athletic Greens is one of the world’s most famous greens powders (and all BarBend readers can get 24% off their greens powder here). As tasty as it is nutritious, Athletic Greens is densely packed with probiotics, vitamins, minerals, and more to supplement performance.

[Learn why Athletic Greens topped our list of Best Green Superfood Powders here! We also reviewed Athletic Greens in-depth.]
Don’t miss out of any of our awesome December giveaways! Check the 25 Days of Gifting homepage for the latest.


Athletic Greens Travel Health Package Giveaway

The post 25 Days of Gifting: Athletic Greens Travel Health Package appeared first on BarBend.

How to Survive (and Even Embrace) Rest Days

The Top 10 Most Searched Workouts of 2017 (Strength Sports Made It Twice)

My Favorite Books for Strength Athletes in 2017

In the digital age we have an endless amount of media with endless ways to consume it. As a producer of some of that content, I thank you all for reading and sharing my work that is a speck in a vast ocean of choices. To better my product, I attempt to keep my mind sharp, open to new concepts and challenged with new ideas. Ever since I could read, I have loved books. This year I made my way through 45 of them, and these five were the best I found for shaping perspectives of coaches and athletes.

1. Faster Higher Stronger by Mark McCulsky

Technology is changing everything, including the way we train. We can now measure almost every aspect of sports performance and then analyze the data to make smarter decisions when it comes to training and competition. We can avoid overtraining, enhance recovery and lessen our mistakes on the field, taking the athlete from an also ran to the top of the podium. This book reinforced the necessity of tracking poundages, taping and reviewing sessions, understanding sleep, picking the right contests, making supportive dietary choices and doing anything you can to manage your career as a Strongperson.

Find it on Amazon

2. Behave by Robert Sapolsky

Taking a Stanford biology course online from Professor Sapolsky made me anxious for the arrival of this book. The complex subject of why humans behave as we do is made surprisingly understandable in a very enjoyable, humorous read. As a coach this book is a must. It is our job to communicate in a way an athlete will respond to in a positive manner. When you understand the mix of genetic, environmental and hormonal factors that truly dictate what we perceive to be “free will,” you can become less frustrated yourself and develop an enriched perspective of why human do such odd things.

Find it on Amazon

3. DNA Is Not Destiny by Steven Heine

“Man, that guy is way better than me. He must have awesome genetics.” We are genetic fatalists, says Heine, arguing that people have resigned their fate to what is encoded in their DNA. The problem with this commonly held viewpoint is that the more you understand genetics the less likely you are to agree with it. By seeing yourself as genetically inferior in a sport can radically effect your ability to perform. Our DNA can actually change and respond to our actions. We can not fully predict height, weight, heart disease or cancer risk simply from DNA alone. As competitors, you should forgo the thought of a fixed destiny and instead fight for your own personal future.

Find it on Amazon

4. What the Luck by Gary Smith

With an infinite number of variables that can happen to us in any situation, one must conclude that much of life has to do with luck. Running into the right contact that landed you a new job? Narrowly miss getting hit by a bus today? Perfect score on a standardized test? Smith illustrates how everyone and everything can over (or under) perform but will eventually return to the average of their potential. My big take away from this was what every successful person constantly trumpets; no matter what, you must keep trying no matter how often you fail. While it is no guarantee of success, you will better your odds.

Find it on Amazon

5. Extreme Ownership By Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

These combat hardened SEAL veterans are now executive consultants, and their message is simple: It’s all on you. Sales team fail? You didn’t communicate how to achieve success or you picked the wrong people. Production fall behind schedule? You failed to manage the problem successfully. It is easy to pass of the responsibility but you must understand, it is the tool of the weak and breeds more weakness. Own every rep of every set. Own your nutrition program. Own your sleep schedule. Own the consequences of your actions. The message is clear; once you do, you will experience freedom and a feeling of control that is quite powerful. Your life is yours and you must drive it, it is not a ride along.

Find it on Amazon

You don’t have to grab any of these suggestions though. Just pick up something and read it. It will engage the brain and in some way make you a better athlete and person. Weight training is the best thing you can do to muscular fitness, but do not neglect your intellectual training as well!

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

The post My Favorite Books for Strength Athletes in 2017 appeared first on BarBend.

When to Use Straps in Powerlifting and Strongman

All strength sports have their own little quirks; powerlifting has sumo deadlifts, CrossFit has kipping, and strongman, well, strongman kind of has a few that irk others. But it isn’t the hitching or the continental cleans that seem to rile people up the most; that honor seems to be reserved for the strapped deadlift.

This isn’t just speculation either, as I say this from experience. While running the social media for Official Strongman, I’d face a torrent of comments each and every day insisting that Eddie’s 500 pull and all the others be struck from the history books because they thought those athletes were ‘cheating.’ All because of a few inches of canvas wrapped round a bar. Fortunately we, as real enthusiasts of strength, can all agree that this isn’t some grand conspiracy and instead just accept the lifts for what they are – strongman records.

[Interested in using straps but don’t know which pair is best for you? Check out our full rundown of the top straps on the market here!]

Despite accepting the lifts of others, even seasoned  powerlifters can overlook straps in their own training, dismissing them as an easy way out. Which is such a shame as straps can add serious weight to your pulls, even when you take them off. Here’s how.

Save your grip for what counts.

When it comes to building a grip strong enough to hold on to anything you can pull off the ground, there are two distinct schools of thought. The first is simple – if you’re training deads with a high enough volume then your grip will grow build on its own and you don’t need to do any specialized hand work. For some this approach works wonders, especially for those lucky enough to naturally have a great grip, work a manual job or just have giant hands.

However, if you’ve ever lost a lift because your grip wasn’t good enough, then it’s time to start listening to the other side and adding in some supplemental grip work.

Finish off your sessions with some farmers walks, weighted hangs and fat bar rows and you’ll have mighty mitts in no time. The problem is that if you start hammering your hands and forearms with farmers walks, weighted hangs and fat bar training, when it comes time to deadlift again your grip will be smoked. This results in you being limited to even less weight on the bar, especially in the short term. That is, of course, unless you strap up for your main deadlift session, while you allow your grip to recover. As with bringing up any weakness this is something best done in the off season, so that as competitions get closer you can start to build back in your strap free deadlift with newly improved grip strength. This is especially important if, like most people, you lift with a mixed grip.  

Injury Prevention

In some of the more hardcore strength circles I’ve heard that having a torn bicep is seen as a badge of honor, a sacrifice to the strength gods, a show of dedication. And while this might be a great story to tell others once you’ve injured yourself, I’m pretty confident that it’s still a club you’re only proud to be in after the fact.

However, we all still all want to deadlift heavy, and with this comes an increased risk of tearing a bicep, especially if you pull with an over under grip. But if you bring straps into the equation for your heavier off season lifts, you can reduce this risk. This is best done by only bringing out the straps for your heaviest work sets and pulling RAW for your warm up and back off sets. This way you get the best of both worlds, reduced risk of a training injury, while still going heavy. This allows you to slowly develop the tendon strength you need while reducing the risk of losing a bicep during a training session.

The other mostly unspoken benefit is that I’m yet to see someone who didn’t benefit from mixing their grip and hand placements up every now and then. Variety is the spice of life after all. As with the previous point do this in the off season and as your powerlifting meet gets closer slowly phase out straps from your heavier sets and reacclimate yourself to lifting how you will on the day.   

Increased Load

No matter how good your grip is, there will be a point where you have to make a choice. Do you stay RAW and lift less or do you throw on a couple of plates, strap your hands to that bar and go rogue. Whether we’re talking a high rep set, a rack pull, a trap bar deadlift or a combination of all three, if straps help you hit that set harder and that’s the goal for the day put protocol aside and strap up. The exact same is true for accessory lifts where grip is going to be a limiting factor, namely rows, shrugs and pull downs.   

Using straps in training isn’t about becoming dependent on a crutch, instead it’s about using every tool at your disposal to get stronger. Just as you might use caffeine or your favorite song to help you push a little harder in a tough workout, straps can be allow you to do things your normally couldn’t. Don’t dismiss it or anything else just because it’s not the most commonly done thing in your sport.  

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

The post When to Use Straps in Powerlifting and Strongman appeared first on BarBend.

Deficit Deadlifts – Training Percentages and Carryover to Deadlift

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

25 Days of Gifting: Lift Lab Co. Weightlifting Apparel Package!

To continue our 25 Days of Gifting extravaganza, BarBend and Lift Lab Co are giving one lucky winner a HUGE apparel package (our biggest yet!) with multiple performance gear shirts, a Lift Lab Co backpack, hat, and more!

In fact, this package is by far our biggest apparel giveaway yet, worth over $200!

One lucky winner is about to look even better on the platform! We’re teaming up with Lift Lab Co gym to give out a a Weightlifting Apparel backpack full of Lift Lab Co t-shirts and a brand new hat, perfect for showing off your training style.

Don’t miss out of any of our awesome December giveaways! Check the 25 Days of Gifting homepage for the latest.

Lift Lab Co. Weightlifting Apparel Package

The post 25 Days of Gifting: Lift Lab Co. Weightlifting Apparel Package! appeared first on BarBend.